Students helping over 65s to find their balance

Participants in the WSLHD Population Health Stepping On program at Greystanes Library.

Ask any person over 65 what’s most important to them and it’s likely they’ll say staying active both mentally and physically is near the top of the list.

In a new collaboration with TAFE NSW Castle Hill, Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is delivering its healthy older adults program, Stepping On, to locals over 65 to help build and maintain their balance and strength to prevent falls, as well as provide an opportunity to make some new social connections.

Centre for Population Health deputy director Christine Newman said the collaboration involved TAFE NSW Allied Health students taking the lead in delivering the seven-week program.

“We know that staying active isn’t just important for physical health – it can have a huge impact on wellbeing, confidence and maintaining independence, especially as we get older,” Ms Newman said.

“Working with TAFE NSW on this program is delivering many great benefits. Not only has it enabled us to meet the aims of the Stepping On program, it’s also providing positive experiences for older adults in the Castle Hill area and giving TAFE NSW students valuable work experience.”

Stepping On participants (left to right) Genzhi Yuan, Lanying Rao, Feng Yu Wang and Yi Ming Wang.

Vanessa Protasi, who is studying a Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy) at TAFE NSW, is one of students who is teaching participants the exercises that will improve their strength and balance to prevent falls.

“I’ve really enjoyed the work experience that I’ve gained by participating in the Stepping On program as it’s provided me with the opportunity to use the hands-on skills I’ve been learning throughout my course to help t Students helping over 65s to find their balance he group reduce their risk of falls,” Ms Protasi said.

“I got to take the group through a few exercises including a flexion and extension exercise, and sitting to standing reps, which are very important when it comes to mobility at their age.

“Falls are such a big risk once people are over the age of 65 so it’s very rewarding that I’ve been able to help this group while doing what I love.”

TAFE NSW Allied Health teacher Kathryn McKinley said the program is a great experience for the students as it provides them with an opportunity to put the practical skills they’ve learnt during their course into a real-life setting.

“The students really benefit from having access to work experience programs like this as it gives them the chance to practice the communication and practical skills they’ve been learning in a simulated setting at TAFE NSW Castle Hill with members of the public,” Ms McKinley said.

“It also provides them with a great understanding of the role of an Allied Health assistant when it comes to preparing for, setting up and running group programs, which they’ll do quite regularly when they’re employed in the industry.”

For more information on Stepping On, contact the Centre for Population Health on 9840 3603 or visit